2017 Policy Victories

Last year was an exciting year the Physician Advocacy Network and tobacco policies in Minnesota! In May, Edina became the first city in Minnesota to raise the tobacco sales age to 21 years old followed by Bloomington, Plymouth and St. Louis Park. St. Cloud also passed a resolution recommending that the state legislature pass a Tobacco 21 policy, and Robbinsdale passed a resolution to consider Tobacco 21 sometime in 2018. 

Minneapolis and St. Paul both passed ground-breaking policies that restrict menthol tobacco to adult-only tobacco stores.St. Louis Park prohibited the sale of candy, sweet, and fruity flavored tobacco products in stores. Robbinsdale also restricted the sale of flavored tobacco to tobacco stores and set a minimum price for cigars. These are just some of the important policies that passed throughout the state!

Physicians, students and other health care providers played a critical role in passing these policies. The Physician Advocacy Network deeply appreciates your support, and looks forward to continuing to reduce the harm of tobacco on our state in 2018.

 
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Behavioral Health and Tobacco Use in Minnesota

The Minnesota Department of Health has a new factsheet and resources available. 

Despite overall declines in adult cigarette use, some populations still smoke at higher rates, including people with behavioral health issues such as mental illness and substance use disorders. For people in substance abuse treatment, quitting can increase long-term abstinence from alcohol and other drugs.

Communities can take steps to reduce tobacco use among people with behavioral health issues.

  • Change norms around tobacco treatment for people with behavioral health issues.
  • Integrate tobacco screening and treatment referral.
  • Implement comprehensive tobacco-free grounds policies.

Learn more about Behavioral Health and Tobacco Use in Minnesota.

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Cities Protect Youth From Tobacco

It's been an exciting month for local policy! Bloomington and Plymouth both passed ordinances raising the minimum tobacco sales age to 21 years old. Robbinsdale passed an ordinance restricting flavored tobacco products (except for menthol) to adult only stores and established a minimum price for flavored cigars. St. Louis Park also passed a policy restricting flavored tobacco to adult only stores, making it the first city in Minnesota to pass both Tobacco 21 and flavor restrictions. Alexandria added e-cigarettes to the city's clean indoor air policy, removing them from bars and restaurants. The Physician Advocacy Network would like to congratulate these cities on their leadership and thank the physicians who advocated on behalf of these policies. 

 
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St. Paul Restricts Menthol Tobacco

The Physician Advocacy Network is thrilled to announce that the Saint Paul City Council showed strong leadership in protecting the health and well-being of its residents by restricting the sale of menthol tobacco products to adult-only tobacco and liquor stores.

The St. Paul City Council approved an amendment to include menthol in the city's existing flavored tobacco restrictions limiting their sale to adult-only tobacco shops in a 6-1 vote. The measure will go into effect November 1, 2018 and menthol will also be available in liquor stores unlike other flavors.

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Physician support for this measure was exceptional and we would like to thank all of those who contacted their council members, as well as Drs. Tom Kottke and Tyler Winkleman who testified at the public hearing. Medical students Dave Bergstrand and Nick Pricco also attended meetings with their city council members and published a letter to the editor in the Minnesota Daily. In addition to that, at least 50 physicians and medical students from across St. Paul contacted or sent a postcard to their their city council member to express support for the ordinance. We hope physicians will continue to reach out to the council to thank them for supporting this groundbreaking ordinance. You can find your City Council Member and their contact information on the City of St. Paul's website

Minnesota Celebrates 10 Years of Freedom to Breathe

October 1st marked the 10th anniversary of Minnesota's Freedom to Breathe Act, which gave Minnesotans the right to breathe clean indoor air in restaurants and bars. As we celebrate this momentous public health victory, we'd like to share an article published in Twin Cities Medical Society's Metro Doctors magazine in 2007, celebrating the role of physicians in advancing tobacco control in Minnesota: Reflections on the Minnesota Freedom to Breathe Act: Tobacco, Public Policy and Public Health. Thank you to all of the physicians who worked tirelessly to ensure that today's kids are born with the freedom to breathe!

 
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Minneapolis Restricts Menthol Tobacco

The Physician Advocacy Network is thrilled to announce that last week Minneapolis became one of the first cities in the United States to tackle health inequities head on by restricting the sale of menthol flavored tobacco products. The Minneapolis City Council approved an amendment to include menthol in the city's existing flavored tobacco restrictions limiting their sale to adult-only tobacco shops. The measure will go into effect August 1, 2018 and menthol will also be available in liquor stores unlike other flavors.

Physician support for this measure was outstanding and we would like to thank all of those who contacted their council members, as well as Dr. Ken Kephart who testified at the public hearing alongside Prashasti Bhatnagar a public health student at the University of Minnesota and member of the PAN's Student Advocates Against Menthol. Medical students Alex Feng and Ed Walczak also attended meetings with their city council members and published a letter to the editor in the Minnesota Daily. In addition to that, at least 15 physicians and medical students from across Minneapolis personally contacted their council members and upwards of 50 physicians signed postcards to express support. We hope physicians will continue to reach out to the council to thank them for supporting this groundbreaking ordinance. You can find your City Council Member and their contact information on the City of Minneapolis' website. Minneapolis Restricts Menthol Tobacco